RICHMOND, Texas - Texas is a launching pad for gymnastics athletes.
We have great talents here like Simone Biles, and now some new talent from our area, that hopefully will become household names like Biles.
They are on their way to represent team USA in Berlin, Germany. FOX 26 got a chance to speak with one of those athletes who currently is number one in the U.S. for his age group, and hails from Richmond.
Aydon Benas, also known as “Fuzzy” Benas, is one of four teenagers who are representing the United States in Berlin for the Junior International Team Cup. It’s a lot of pressure for the 16-year-old, but Fuzzy says for him, it’s more than just a competition.
“Having the honor to represent team USA, wearing USA on my chest,” says Benas.
Fuzzy was born to be a gymnast, his parents taking him to his first class when he was less than a year old!
He says, “Both my parents did it and they both got free college, so they started me off pretty young with the same expectation in mind and I’ve been doing it since when I was about eight months old."
Coach Sam McArthur has trained Fuzzy for the last 10 years, and tells FOX 26 it takes a lot of hard work to be ranked number one in the nation.
“He trains six days a week, about 23 hours a week. We have a light day on Wednesday and then we have a Saturday morning 8 a.m. practice,” says the coach.
You also have to do well academically.
"We have a rule here where we’re not allowed to compete unless we have certain, we have an expectation for our pro team like grade wise, if we drop below that we don’t compete,“ says Benas.
It’s hard to believe that this remarkable teen has time for a social life, but he says he can squeeze it in.
Right now, he is focusing on the team competition in Berlin, which will be his first time out of the country.
Representing the U.S. in the Olympics games seems like the next step for Fuzzy. But this young man is trying to keep himself grounded, focusing on education.
He tells us, “I mean, that would be amazing, I’m not going to lie saying I don’t want to do that, but my priority is a scholarship for college.”
Coach Sam says that the teams from Russia and Italy will be tough completion. We will continue to follow how these young men perform over in Berlin.